"I'm Not Convinced We Know Anything"

Reality is enough, when you get to know it

Reality is enough, when you get to know it

The other week I was wondering why reality seems cooler in movies, novels and imagination? The Matrix movies for example portray a world where human life is confined to a make believe world simulated in computers. Except for Agent Smith and crew(the bad guys) trying to take over it seems like an interesting world. Other movies like Tron and Inception also present worlds that seem more appealing than our own. And it’s not just the movies, alcohol for example twists ones perception of the world and all of a sudden things become more beautiful. Weed makes the world even prettier :) And when the effects of the alteration start to wane you gradually realize the normal boring reality. The reality that is not amazing enough.

Pondering on this issue lately has made me realize that reality is the most awesome thing when you pay attention. Think about it for a minute. We live on a giant rock suspended in “mostly empty” space, held in position by a ball of gas a million times more massive, which it travels around ten times the speed of sound. The massive ball of gas, our sun, is dwarfed by other bodies in a pool of trillions of such, in a universe 40 billion light years wide that is not only expanding but expanding faster with time. And in it are all sorts of stuff; exploding stars, planets like our own, invisible matter that probably make up 3 quarters of the universe, massive bodies with infinite gravity that pull everything in, including light. And all this, could be nothing but a hologram on the surface of a black hole(upcoming blog post), or a black hole.

But forget the way out there for a second. Come back to Earth. Earth is by itself one of the most amazing things that exist. We are yet to find something similar, something with the exact ingredients required for life to come about. Its features are so specific it’s eerie. It’s the distant from the sun, the composition of the atmosphere, the speed of rotation, the mass and a million other things. All so finely tuned so that life could occur, or (for the more practical) so finely tuned that life could occur.

Life. What an amazing phenomena. It’s hard to imagine that all this just happened, spontaneously, out of nothing but the right conditions and good timing. Life includes a myriad of all sorts. The chameleon for example can change its colors to hide in its surrounding. But if you think the chameleon is cool then the mimic octopus will blow your mind. This creature can morph into over 15 sea creatures ranging from crabs to jellyfish. Awesome eh?(even Mitt Romney can’t beat that)

Some forms of life spend most of their time in the air looking down on Earth, some spend it below the surface and others even in water. Life ranges from the super huge dinosaurs that were (fortunately for us) driven to extinction 65 million years ago to the teeny tiny ones that can’t be observed by the naked eye. And yet the super small life is not the smallest stuff we know. They are made of molecules, which in turn are made of atoms and ions. But the rabbit hole goes further down. Welcome to the subatomic world where everything changes including the laws of nature(or our perception of them).


Since before Aristotle men have wondered what the smallest bit that makes all stuff is. The early Greek and Indian thinkers proposed the atom as the smallest particle. In fact the word atom is derived from the Greek word atomos which means indivisible. But over time we have come to know that this is far from the truth. Even now we cannot say that we know for sure what the fundamental building block of the universe is. However, our quest has introduced us to some of the weirdest things we’ve come across in the universe and even gotten us closer to knowing the origin of everything. Our subatomic journey has revealed that atoms are actually planetary system like stuff with electrons orbiting heavier central nuclei made of neutrons and protons. And the electrons are no longer your traditional particles that can be fully defined as having certain velocity or even being in a certain location. It is not even a solid block of matter anymore but a fluff of energy whose location and velocity are not specific values but probabilities. In this world we have particles whose certain properties are all possible values until measured. We have pairs of particles that remain connected even when separated by arbitrarily large distances. Electron behaviors show that they can be at different places at the same time and even nowhere at certain times probably slipping in and out of this and other parallel universes.

Parallel universes, it’s mostly theory now but the math looks good. The possibility that out there, there’s more. That everything we see as all there is is just one of infinite completely independent of each other. That all possible decisions you could have made in all the situations you have encountered since you started to exist were made in multiple other universes. That in other universes you don’t exist, in others you coexist with dinosaurs, in others you are a multiple Nobel prize winning physicist who invented a time travel machine. It sounds like science fiction but if our current theory of the universe is correct then this is the reality.